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US civil rights movement: Myths shattered by Charleston

The myth that racial discrimination in the United States came to an end after the civil rights movement was shattered in Charleston

Gamal Nkrumah , Wednesday 1 Jul 2015
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White supremacists in the United States have never lost interest in pushing African Americans around. America is not, and never has been, socially cohesive. The Charleston massacre underscored the tragic reality that racism in America is rife. The series of murders of African Americans, and black male youth in particular, is testament to the bloodcurdling truth that whites in America are trigger happy. A well-honed sense of history is in the making in contemporary America.

American racism is like no other. Racist psychopaths, of course, are not the only culprits. Forget about US President Barack Obama, Oprah Winfrey and LeBron James, the vast majority of African Americans are desperately poor, distraught and persecuted. The need to confront the racial war and racial injustice in America is urgent. "The United States incarcerates a higher proportion of blacks than apartheid South Africa did. In America, the black-white wealth gap today is greater than it was in South Africa in 1970 at the peak of apartheid," extrapolated Nicholas Kristof in The New York Times.

Oprah was raped at age nine and became pregnant at 14 and notwithstanding her drop-dead wardrobe and worldwide fame was barred from buying a $38,000 handbag by a racist Swiss sales assistant. Indeed, the US is not the only racist nation on earth, but American racism is systematic and pervasive.

And, racial violence in America is cause for pause. The disparity in incarceration rates between blacks and whites in America is deplorable, precisely because it is widening. Statistics draw attention to the racial divide in practically all spheres of life in the US. The discrepancy in the ratio between black and white unemployment bespeaks doom for America.

Yes, the US has a black president for the first time in the history of America, and yet the proliferation of racist atrocities appears to have multiplied during his presidency. The Internet and social media are unleashing a deluge of hitherto unreported racist incidents. It is not so much that the upsurge of violence against people of colour in America has dramatically escalated. Rather, that the Internet, social media and by implication the international media, both television and print media, hold ever greater sway on the coverage of racial violence in contemporary America and how blacks and whites interact socially.

The mass protests of yesteryear have subsided. The milieu is not conducive to the evolution of revolutionary armed groups such as the Black Panthers. Militant black activists have been practically pacified. Equal rights legislation is meaningless without the empowerment of African Americans. The token blacks in positions of power are something of a creepy camouflage, a macabre masquerade or at best a smothering smokescreen hoodwinking the bitter truth.

Barack Obama is something of a bamboozle. Reverend Clementa Pinckney at the College of Charleston campus, one of nine blacks gunned down by the 45-calibre Glock of Dylann Roof. "We do not know whether the killer of Reverend Pinckney knew all of this history," President Obama mused.

Care a hoot? Did Obama seriously believe that Roof cared a toss about African American history? But, Obama hit the nail on the head when he surmised that 21-year old Roof knew exactly enough of America's history of racist violence. "It was an act that drew on a long history of bombs, and arson, and shots fired at these churches," the president expounded.

The onus on gun control was categorical, and rightly so. But, the fuss over the Confederate flag was frankly trivia.

"For too long, we were blind to the pain that the Confederate flag stirred into many of our citizens," Obama postulated.

"By taking down that flag, we express God's grace," Obama thundered. Flags and "deus ex machina" aside, the Charleston massacre was the latest of a long list of racist outrages. The shooting in August 2014 of 18-year old Michael Brown by Darren Wilson, 28, a white Ferguson, Missouri, police officer kept the home fires of American racism burning.

White America must get rid of its devil-may-care attitude to racism. An estimated 60 per cent of Ferguson's population is African American, and yet both the mayor and the chief of police are white. And, only three of the 53 police officers in the city are black. Black America should pull out all the stops to ensure that the days of Malcolm X, Martin Luther King, Stokely Carmichael, better known as Kwame Toure, are back.
The chilling premonition of Nina Simone rings true. She left the US and fled to France. "There aren't any civil rights," she stated ominously in an interview. "There is no reason to sing those [revolutionary] songs, nothing is happening. There's no civil-rights movement. Everybody’s gone."

And, on this foreboding prognostication, I personally rest my case.

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